“I came across another one of her motivational messages, this time in a photo taken of the palm of her hand, on which she had written: “Finish It.” That short message, which I now wear 24/7 on a bracelet on my wrist”, reminds me of this verse: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).”
A father’s tribute of love to his daughter
By: Michael Freemen
At 3:30 on February 3, 2020 a small group of cross-country runners at Moore High School left the school and started down the sidewalk on what was supposed to be a 10-minute run through a residential neighborhood. Less than a minute later, a driver intoxicated by alcohol and marijuana swerved across the oncoming lane of Main Street going 78 miles per hour struck the teens, critically injuring several. My seventeen-year-old daughter Rachel was killed instantly. Her friend Yuridia Martinez died the next morning, and her friend Kolby Crum died twelve days later.
Three lives were ended that day and many more were scarred forever because of the senseless, selfish act of one man.
Rachel was loved by everyone she knew. She was a dedicated and determined athlete, having been a student of Tae Kwon Do before pursuing running as a freshman. To stay conditioned, she even joined the MHS swim team her senior year. She had just recently been accepted to Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, on an academic and cross-country scholarship, and was so excited to enter this next phase of her life. She literally was counting down the days until her 18th birthday—a milestone she would never reach.
Rachel was a born-again Christian too, and her faith was evident to those around her. After her death, the stories told to us by her friends were heartwarming—stories of how she would go out of her way to befriend and include those who weren’t necessarily part of the “in crowd,” stories of how she was everyone’s “best friend.” Rachel had a habit of writing herself little motivational notes. After her death, I found one on her dresser on a little scrap of paper—it simply said: “I want to trust God more.”
In the days and weeks after the incident (we refuse to call it an “accident”), the Moore community came together once again as it had in previous tragedies such as the massive tornados of 1999 and 2013, displaying the “Moore Strong” spirit that it’s known so well for. Although the outpouring of love and support toward us was immense, our loss was more so. Parents should not have to bury a child. Our comfort came, and still comes, only from the certain knowledge of two things: God is good, and she is with Him.
Those who injure, maim, and kill others while driving impairedalmost always have previous convictions for impaired driving, as in the case of the man who killed my daughter. Sadly, we as a society don’t sufficiently value the thousands of impaired drivingvictims, else we’d do more to keep these habitual offenders off the streets. My hat goes off to each and every one of the many patrol officers, investigators, and prosecutors who do everything within their power to accomplish just that.
After Rachel’s death, I was able to get into her phone and view all of her photos—a priceless treasure indeed. I came across another one of her motivational messages, this time in a photo taken of the palm of her hand, on which she had written: “Finish It.” That short message, which I now wear 24/7 on a bracelet on my wrist, reminds me of this verse: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). On February 3, 2020, Rachel finished the race that God set before her, and she finished well. May we all do the same.
Sergeant Don Egdorf DWI Task Force Houston, Texas Police Department MADD National Board Member and Vice Chair MADD Law Enforcement Committee Chair
As 2020 ends and we start thinking about 2021, I think it is important to look back on the challenges that we all dealt with in 2020. This year, as hard as it has been, has shown that our nation needs its law enforcement officers, especially our DWI cops.
In a year that we saw bars, restaurants, stadiums, arenas and every type of event you can think of cancelled, somehow, we managed to keep the status quo on one thing; impaired driving. When the COVID crisis started and we began seeing businesses shutting down, I think we all had the same initial thoughts that we would see a drastic decrease in DWI arrests and DWI fatal crashes. Unfortunately, neither of those have happened. Here in Houston, where we have been the unfortunate leader in DWI deaths for many years, we have actually seen an increase in our fatal crashes from both 2018 and 2019.
When we ask ourselves why, there isn’t really a good answer, but we know without a doubt that we are needed more than ever to help make the roadways safer. I want to issue a challenge to all of the officers out there to make an effort to take more impaired drivers off the roadway in 2021. Every impaired driver that you arrest will be a life that is saved. For the Chiefs of Police, elected Sheriffs, Constables, Colonels, or whatever title your department head carries, please make the effort to let your troops know that DWI enforcement is important, and necessary. I have always said you don’t have to be a chief to be a leader, but it sends such a strong message to everyone in the department when your Chief IS the leader when it comes to DWI enforcement.
2021 is already set to bring historic changes to our country. The U.S. House of Representatives just passed a bill to decriminalize marijuana at the Federal level. For states that do not have legal and/or medical marijuana, like mine, we can expect changes to everything that we do. Bills like this one, as well as others that are coming, will all highlight the need to have every street cop trained in Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) as well as highlight the need for many more Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). We are already behind the curve on this issue and we will all be playing catch up.
2020 has forced us to go virtual and we have lost many of the in-person events that we attend like Lifesavers and the DAID conferences and MADD was forced to cancel our 40th anniversary celebration and conference. The good news is that as time goes on, these events will come back. We are working on some exciting projects at MADD that will help the law enforcement community including national and regional summits to discuss impaired driving. Ron Replogle, MADD’s National Law Enforcement Initiatives
Manager, has been working hard on these events and I wanted to make sure that he is recognized for his work. I may be the chair of the MADD Law Enforcement Committee, but Ron is really the guy doing the work behind the scene to make everything happen.
Make sure that you wear your vest and wear your seatbelt! Remember that the life you save might be your own.
Please feel free to reach out to me anytime if I can help.
December 2020 Officer of the Month Sergeant Jaime Esparza El Paso, Texas Police Department
Sergeant Jaime Esparza has been assigned to the El Paso DWI Taskforce for the last 15 years. He has been a leader and supervisor of the officers in the Taskforce for over 8 years. Sergeant Esparza is a true leader and provides support, training, and guidance to his team for the safety of El Paso.
Under Sergeant Esparza’s leadership, he has built an exceptional team who are out enforcing the law and keeping the roads safe. Additionally, Sgt. Esparza believes in community and his officers are crossed trained to educate the citizens on Texas DWI law and enforcement.
Over the years, Sergeant Esparza has been a great supporter and partner of MADD. He provides support at MADD’s Victim Impact Panels and supports MADD’s holiday campaign, Tie One on for Safety. He is innovative to change and is always looking for opportunities to grow his level of expertise in drunk and drugged driving enforcement.
Sergeant Esparza provides support to his agency’s Special Traffic Investigations (STI) unit on major cases like Intoxication Manslaughter and Accident Involving Injury or Death. Sergeant Esparza understands the protocols when obtaining evidence in these cases and ensures case law is followed.
In 2018, Sergeant Esparza was awarded the MADD West Texas Leadership Award – Community Difference Maker. Also, in 2018, he was selected to and attended the MADD National Law Enforcement Impaired Driving Summit.
MADD National is proud to recognize Sergeant Jamie Esparza as the December 2020 Officer of the Month. We thank him for his many years of dedicated service to the citizens of El Paso, the State of Texas and MADD. Thank you to Program Manager Vanessa Luna-Marquez in the MADD West Texas-El Paso affiliate for her nomination of Sergeant Esparza for this recognition.
Strong drunk driving laws are key to saving lives. That is why we’re so grateful to our legislative partners who have championed MADD’s mission to end the No. 1 killer on our nation’s roads. It is why, each year, we honor lawmakers whose outstanding work has put us closer to a future of No More Victims.
These are MADD’s 2019 legislative heroes in Congress:
The RIDE and HALT Acts introduced in 2019 would require alcohol detection technology in all new vehicles.
Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan introduced legislation to require drunk driving prevention technology in all new vehicles days after the Jan. 6, 2019 drunk driving crash claimed the lives of an entire Northville family. Dingell proposed a more wide-ranging measure in September. The Honoring the Abbas Family Legacy to Terminate (HALT) Drunk Driving Act requires federal regulatory action by 2024 to install drunk driving prevention technology in all new vehicles. The HALT Act is named for the five members of the Abbas family killed in this unthinkable tragedy: Issam and Rima Abbas and their three children, Ali, 13, Isabella, 12, and Giselle, 7. Thanks to Rep. Dingell’s leadership and tenacity on this issue, there is now momentum behind taking action to require life-saving systems in all vehicles.
MADD meets with Rep. Nita Lowey, a 2019 MADD legislative champion for her work to end drunk driving.
Representative Nita Lowey of New York has worked for decades to end the 100 percent preventable crime of drunk driving. Throughout her career, she has been a genuine force in this ongoing fight, including championing the successful effort to establish a national standard of .08 BAC, which has saved thousands of lives. Recently, Rep. Lowey proposed legislation to encourage more states to pass laws requiring ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders. Thirty-four states, including New York, currently have these laws, which have prevented more than 3 million attempts to drive drunk in the last 12 years. Additionally, through her position as Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Lowey has worked to accelerate the development of in-vehicle technologies to prevent a drunk driver from operating a vehicle.
Senator Rick Scott of Florida introduced a bipartisan measure in October that could ultimately end drunk driving in America. The Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone (RIDE) Act by Sens. Scott and Tom Udall of New Mexico would require the installation of passive advanced drunk driving prevention technology in all new vehicles within four years. This technology would prevent a drunk driver from operating a vehicle and save 7,000 lives a year. Sen. Scott is also a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which is responsible for motor vehicle and highway safety programs and legislation. He has quickly emerged as a national legislative leader in the fight to eliminate drunk driving.
MADD has recognized Rep. Jan Schakowsky for a lifetime of work to end drunk driving.
Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois chaired a March 2019 hearing of the Consumer Protection Subcommittee that focused on the government-auto industry research program supported primarily by government funds for more than a decade. At that hearing, MADD National President Helen Witty challenged the auto industry to move drunk driving prevention technology development out of the research labs and make it available to consumers as soon as possible, where it could save as many as 7,000 lives a year. Rep. Schakowsky is committed to motor vehicle safety and a true advocate in the fight to end drunk driving.
Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico has consistently taken a leadership role in the fight to reduce drunk driving, including leading efforts to provide funding for a research program to develop a passive system for preventing a drunk driver from operating a vehicle. Now Senator Udall is working with Senator Scott of Florida on bipartisan legislation that would take the results of that research out of the laboratory and make the technology standard equipment in all new vehicles, like many other life-saving safety systems. The Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone (RIDE) Act has the potential to save 7,000 lives a year and will add to Senator Udall’s legacy of advancing meaningful measures to save lives and prevent injuries.
🚨BREAKING NEWS🚨: “@MADDOnline supports Yes on Prop 22 because it will save lives. Rideshare services help keep drunk and drug impaired drivers off of our roads by providing a convenient, reliable, and affordable alternative to driving.” Helen Witty – MADD National President pic.twitter.com/DxdtftgwkH
Master Police Officer Christine Peters succumbed to injuries sustained 12 days earlier when she was struck by a vehicle on Edmonston Road, north of Cherrywood Lane, while assisting officers from... Read more »
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2021 National Lifesavers Conference Registration is Open – Registration is now open for the 2021 National Lifesavers Conference on Highway Safety Priorities, which will be held virtually. Register here >
DRE State Coordinator Best Practices Guide to Managing an Effective DEC Program – contains guidelines and recommendations for state DRE coordinators to enhance their DEC Program.
On November 12, NHTSA published a Request for Information (RFI) on available or late-stage technology under development for impaired driving detection and mitigation. The RFI’s goal is to better understand the state of emerging technologies, particularly those targeting alcohol-impaired driving. The notice requests information about the capabilities, limitations, and maturity of impaired driving technologies that are being researched, developed, or marketed.
The State of Recruitment: A Crisis for Law Enforcement
Law enforcement agencies across the United States are struggling to recruit and hire police officers. Though agency-specific needs exist depending on size or locale, the difficulty with recruitment is a significant problem that is broadly affecting the field of law enforcement. This IACP resource provides an overview of recruitment by the numbers, discusses the factors driving the recruitment crisis and the impact on the profession, and identifies innovative approaches to recruitment. View the resource here.
MADD’s recently released Marijuana Survey Report on
Misconceptions about Marijuana Consumption and Driving